Oncology (General Cancer)/Breast Cancer symtoms


I'm a 38 year old woman, never had a mammogram before but, recently my left breast got swollen, and very painful.  So I got an appointment with my doctor and send me to a mammogram exam.  I would like to know what the term fatty replaced axillary lymph nodes, since this is what appears in the results.  I am not a mother yet, so could I be at risk of breast cancer because of this? Thank you.

The radiologist is commenting on the appearance of the axillary lymph nodes, in your case, showing evidence of fat infiltration.  This is the opposite appearance from cancer involvement; fat is less dense than normal tissue, cancer usually more dense.  If the breast has gotten better, you probably had mastitis; if it hasn't then you need further studies, possibly including a biopsy of the breast tissue.  There is a subtype of breast cancer called "inflammatory carcinoma" which can look like a painful swollen breast, but it doesn't get better.  I don't think the axillary node report is anything to worry about.  As for whether you are at increased risk having had presumably a breast infection, the answer as far as I know is no.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.